Western Canada’s Maritime War Dividend ‐ Military Vessels Converted for Civilian Use

by George Duddy (2016)
(prior efforts acknowledged by the late John Henderson
with updates by John M. MacFarlane 2015)

"...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks...

RCN Corvettes Bedwell Harbour

Former RCN corvettes in the “Ghost Fleet” at Bedwell Bay, Indian Arm BC. The port side vessel and K–492 were converted to Union Steamship coastal passenger ships. (Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-3463, photographer Jack Lindsay)


This is an update to the 2015 Nauticapedia article entitled “Military Vessels Converted to Tugs & Yachts in British Columbia Waters”.

Before he died in 2008, John MacFarlane’s cousin John Henderson wrote a draft of an article on converted military tugs which, to the best of John’s knowledge, was never published. Henderson was a well‐known marine engineer and a life-long ship buff. He developed this great passion from his early childhood interest in tug boats. In 2015 John MacFarlane updated the lists to include other classes of vessels. In 2016 the author expanded the list again.

After the First, and particularly the Second, World Wars the local maritime economy received a tremendous boost from the availability in large numbers of surplus military vessels. These could be purchased at a fraction of their original costs and were almost instantly available. Canada's WWII west coast shipbuilding efforts focused on building large “Victory” type ships.These were mostly unsuitable for the postwar coastal shipping industry. Fortunately the United States had a ready supply of accessable and available surplus vessels.

An influx of high quality surplus military vessels propelled the towing and transportation industry, as well as the forest and fishing industries, to a level that might not otherwise have been possible in British Columbia without this ready supply. Some even became private yachts. The vessels came mainly from the UK and USA with a few provided by the Canadian forces after WWII.

Their purchase at low cost was indeed a small war dividend to the economy of a country that had contributed much in terms of lives and cost to the war effort.

This article is a portal to a vast amount of data contained in The Nauticapedia database. It is organized by the various classes of vessels that were purchased. Vessels identified by their military names or pennant numbers are linked directly to their Canadian registered names and can be accessed directly from the article.

This is a vast topic and will remain a work in progress as more information is collected. It covers, with only a few exceptions, vessels that were Canadian registered and operated on Canada's west coast, the western Arctic, the Mackenzie River inland waterway and other inland waters. To put a practical boundary on the project a limitation of over fifty feet in length has been placed on vessels in the study. All originally non‐powered craft have been excluded omitting many army and navy tugs, motor launches and military crash boats that are worthy of mention but would require extensive research to include or, in the case of RCAF vessels, duplicate efforts already covered in another Nauticapedia RCAF related article. Many of the vessels identified in this category were former landing craft vessels (eg LCPI ‐ Higgins Boats). They were favoured by coast loggers for service in the logging camps because of their hinged bows that could be lowered to facilitate loading and unloading of equipment on ramps and beaches. The variety of former Canadian military vessels available after WWII is illustrated in “The Ghost Fleet of Bedwell Bay BC” .

The Canadian registry system for most imported US vessels does not provide original names or numbers for the vessels. Additionally, because of the large numbers of vessels built, only a range of possible vessels can be specified. In those situations, the listing reflects the first name or number in the range followed by a question mark. For instance: La Pine could be one of a number of the vessels built by the Elizabeth City Shipyards in the range SC‐1279 through SC‐1282. The vessel is listed as SC‐1279?

In the tables below the vessels are ordered from their initial to final names.

Former Canadian salvage ship sold to RN for WWII service

This is an exception to all other ships in this article as the vessel in question was a civilian vessel purchased for military service.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Salvage King (I) #150909

Former Royal Navy minesweepers

HMS Camberly, Hunt Class minesweeper.

Hunt class minesweeper HMS Camberley (Photo from Imperial War Museum)

These sister ships former Royal Navy Hunt class minesweepers were acquired by Union Steamship and converted for use on their coastal service in 1925.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Swindon (HMS) Lady Cecilia #152718
Barnstaple (HMS) Lady Cynthia #152898

Former British Admiralty WWI rescue tugs and whaling vessels

St. Catherine

Canadian National No. 2 (Photo from the John Henderson collection)

These veteran WWI steel steam‐powered vessels served their new country to well after WWII performing rail barge, log barge, Davis raft and other heavy tows.

In April 1916 the British Admiralty placed orders for 64 Saint class 143 foot tugs from shipyards around the United Kingdom and in Hong Kong. When the WWI ended many of them were not yet completed. Eventually 18 were cancelled, 46 were completed and most were laid up as soon as they were delivered. The decision was made to sell surplus tugs to commercial operators who prized them as high quality vessels. They were the first tugs to have a raised fo'c'sle deck that extended to the aft end of the boat deck. All the tugs were single screw and fitted with a coal‐fired triple‐expansion steam engine with an output of 1250 ihp and were capable of a speed of 12 knots. With a large coal capacity they could steam at full power for 15 days.

The triple‐expansion reciprocating engine had cylinders of 18 1/4″, 28 1/2″ and 48 1/4″ diameters and a 28″ stroke at 125rpm the engine developed 1250 ihp. The two single‐ended scotch boilers were coal‐fired along with the usual auxiliaries and fitted with a ten ton per day capacity evaporating and distilling plant for desalination of sea water. They were also equipped with electric lighting, the power derived from a 12kw generator driven by a 20hp turbine.

The fourth member of this group HMS Finwhale began life as a shorter 125 foot Admiralty Whaler class vessel tasked as a coastal anti‐submarine escort. A total of 15 vessels were constructed for WWI.

Original Name Later Names O/N
St. Catherine Canadian National No. 2; Polaris (II); Gulf Freda #143165
St. Faith (II) S.D. Brooks; Haida Monarch (I); Le Beau (II); Unit Shipper; Killarney #143397
St. Florence Kyuquot (I) #143307
Finwhale (HMS) Hopkins Bros.; Canadian National No.1 #145356

Former British Admiralty WWII RN salvage ships acquired with partial or full Canadian ownership

Near the beginning of the war the British Admiralty ordered four steel 213 foot salvage ships from the Basalt Rock Company Inc. of Napa, California. Caledonian Salvor (BARS 1) which became the well‐known Canadian tug Sudbury II and Cambrian Salvor (BARS 2) were both owned by Island Tug and Barge Ltd. of Victoria who used them for trans‐ocean tows of retired ships to Asian scrap yards. The Cambrian Salvor, unlike her sister, was never registered in Canada. Two of the vessels of the original order Atlantic Salvor (BARS 3) and Pacific Salvor (ARS 34) were retained for use with the US Navy becoming respectively USS Clamp (ARS 33) and USS Gear (ARS 34).

Original Name Later Names O/N
Caledonian Salvor (HMS) Caledonian Salvor; Sudbury II; Lady Pacific #196261
Cambrian Salvor (HMS) Cambrian Salvor; HMS Cambrian Salvor; Cambrian Salvor HMAS; Cambrian Salvor; Caribische Zee; Collinsea; Francois C.; Ras Deira #NCdnReg

Former British Admiralty RN Assurance class tugs

HMRT Allegiance, Assurance class tug.

HMRT Allegiance, June 1943 (Photo from Imperial War Museum)

There were 21 Assurance class tugs built by Cochrane and Sons Ltd., Selby, Yorkshire UK during the WWII as rescue tugs. They were all 156.6′ x 35′ x 16.6′ powered by triple‐expansion 1350ihp steam engines producing 13 knots on a single screw.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Cautious (HMS) Rivtow Lion #182199
Tenacity (HMS) Adherent; Hermes; Rivtow Viking #330812

Former RCN Flower class corvette HMCS Sudbury converted to a tug

HMRT Allegiance, Assurance class tug.

HMCS Sudbury (Photo from ReadyAyeReady.com)

After ending a long career with the RCN on the west coast the Flower class corvette HMCS Sudbury was converted to a salvage tug in 1949 for Island Tug and Barge Company Ltd. of Victoria, BC. Her fame for successfully completing trans‐ocean tows became legend.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Sudbury (HMCS) Sudbury #190601

Former RCN and RN Castle class corvettes converted to transports

HMCS <em>St Thomas</em>

HMCS St Thomas at Molville, Northern Ireland (Photo from City of Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 374-3)

These Castle class vessels were a key element for a local company. The Union Steamship Company renewed their fleet to enable coastal transportation to resource‐based coastal communities.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Walmer Castle (HMS) Leaside (HMCS); Coquitlam (II); Glacier Queen (I) #176902
Sandgate Castle (HMS) St. Thomas (HMCS); Camosun (III); Chilcotin (I) #176903
Guildford Castle (HMS) Hespeler (HMCS); Chilcotin (II); Capri; Stella Maris; Westar (I) #178070

RCN Fairmile motor launches

HMC <em>ML120</em>


A brief history and specifications for RCN Type B launches is contained in a descriptive paragraph "Fairmiles of the RCN" from The Naval Museum of Manitoba's website.

The vessels included below operated post‐war on the west coast and were selected from The Nauticapedia article prepared by Commander Fraser McKee RCN(R) “Where Did the RCN Motor Launches Get To?” Not all of the vessels listed were commissioned into the RCN. Seven were purchased by Hamiltar Ltd., the owners of Malibu Lodge on Princess Louisa Inlet.

The website Fairmiles of the Royal Canadian Navy provides extensive information about Canadian Fairmiles and their subsequent civilian life including many photographs.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Q-066 Earlmar #176481
Q-067 Stranger II (I) #176672
Q-068 S.T.S.; Salvor (IV); Marine Freight No. 1; Sechelt Narrows; Miss Linda #176230
Q-069 Harwood; Casa Mia #176502
Q-070 Machigonne (III); Gulf Ranger (III); Coast Ranger; Saracen III; Lahaina Lady; Noble Lady #176475
Q-071 Troubadour III; Gulf Wing; Nimpkiss Princess; Northland Princess; Kona Winds; Knight Time II #176497
Q-122 Malibu Tyee; Nancy N. Seymour; Sogno d'Oro #176742
Q-123 Malibu Marlin; Toluca (US) #176473
Q-124 PTC 724; Elk (HMCS) (II); Teirrah; Pacific Gold; Zues II (US) #312819
Q-125 Malibu Tilikum; Yorkeen; Campana; Jornholm; Gulfstream II #176474
Q-126 Princess Malibu #176482
Q-127 Chief Malibu #176483
Q-128 Princess Louisa Inlet #176485
Q-129 Malibu Inez; Huntress (I); Viking; Island Adventuress #176231

Royal Canadian Navy (Fishermen Reserve Division) seiner type vessels

Original Name Later Names O/N
Moolock (HMCS) Western Girl (RCASC); Western Girl #174070
Talapus (II) Talapus (HMCS); Parry (CGS); Parry #177553
Kuitan Kuitan (HMCS); Cape Bathurst; Kornat I #178828
Ehkoli (HMCS) Ehkoli (CNAV); Northwest Explorer (I); Pacific Spirit; Ehkoli #313121
Nenamook (HMCS) Cape Palmerston (I); Besbro Lady FY.13
Leelo Leelo (HMCS); Leelo FY.15

RCN Norton class tugs

Tugs of the Norton class at 115 feet and 257 tons were the largest built for the RCN in WWII. Eight were constructed in eastern Canadian yards. Only the CNAV Heatherton served on the west coast at the end of the war. She was joined by the CNAV Clifton after the war. Both were eventually sold to private owners. Clifton was registered in Vancouver and was briefly employed on the west coast. Heatherton was registered in Quebec and employed in the east.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Clifton (HMCS) Clifton (CNAV); Clifton #391334

RCN Glen class tugs

Glen class WWII tugs built for the RCN were nominally 80 feet in length. They were constructed in both wood and in two distinct steel models: long house and short house. The west coast fleet consisted of three of the four wood models constructed by McKenzie Barge and Derrick of North Vancouver: Glendevon, Glendon and Glenholme plus a steel short house model Glencove and a long house model Glenshiel. Both steel tugs were built by Russel Bros. of Owen Sound, Ontario.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Glenshiel (HMCS) Lotbiniere; Glenshiel #176554
Glencove (HMCS) Consol II; Glen Rover #176561
Glenholme (CNAV) Scanlon; C.P. Yorke; Trojan; Glenholme #176893
Glendon (HMCS) Glendon (CNAV); North Arm Highlander; Timber Wolf (I) #323218
Glendevon (II) (HMCS) Glendevon (II) #323277

RCN North class tugs

The RCN purchased four 74 foot tugs from American Marine Corp., New Orleans in 1942 all with names starting with North. The North Shore was the only one that served on the west coast.

Original Name Later Names O/N
North Shore Marpole #177607

Other RCN vessels converted to tugs and transport use

Original Name Later Names O/N
Armentieres (HMCS) A.G. Garrish; Arctic Rover; La Force (II); Polaris (I) #141341
Truro (HMCS) Herchmer (RCMP); Gulf Mariner (I) #177616
Rossland (HMCS) La Verne #179470
Kalamalka (HMCS) Kalamalka #190303
YSF–216 John T. Nadin #818988

Canadian Army vessels

Four members of this group in the over fifty feet in length category have been found. According to marine writer S.C. Heal, the last two listed, General Cotton (RCASC) and General Kennedy (RCASC) were sister ships to General MacKenzie (RCAF), see below. The second is better known as the navy vessel HMCS Cedarwood. Presumably because of hull condition she was sometimes also disparagingly known as HMCS “Wormwood”.

According to Wikipedia: “After her naval service she was converted as a replica of the paddle steamer Beaver and then had other dummy fittings added to play the role of the steamer Commodore during the British Columbia centennial celebrations.”

Original Name Later Names O/N
General Lake (RCASC) Ardronan; Black Bird II; Gulf Bird #173476
J.E. Kinney General Schmidlin (RCASC) (II); Cedarwood (HMCS); Cedarwood #175463
General Kennedy (RCASC) Squamish Queen (II)
General Cotton (RCASC) Hecate Straits (I); Maple Ridge (II); Regal Spirit

RCAF vessels converted to tugs and fish packers

The RCAF employed only a few larger vessels during WWII. Numerous smaller vessels made up the bulk of their fleet, see the Nauticapedia list for such vessels.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Hesquiat (RCAF) Hesquiat (II) #176891
RCAF M.468 Songhee Songhee (CNAV); Songhee; Driftwood #176893
Kimsquit (RCAF) Kimsquit (II) #176896
General MacKenzie (RCAF) Mar Bermejo; Majellan Streight; Magellan Straits; Magellan #194210

Miscellaneous government vessels

It is not clear whether these were truly military vessels but they are included for completeness.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Babine Post (I) F.D.2 #177593
Sooke Post (I) F.D.1; Kilslai; Lorinda B #177594

US Navy ATR class 156 foot wood rescue tugs

ATR-1 on trials.

USS ATR-1 on builder’s trials circa September 1943 demonstrating firefighting capabilities. (US National Archives Photo No. Unknown RG-19-LCS from Shipscribe.com)

There were 80 ATR–type wooden steam‐powered salvage and rescue tugs constructed in two groups: ATR 1 ‐ 40 and ATR 50 ‐ 89. All, except four which were given to the UK under the lend‐lease program, were retained as US Navy vessels. A third group was ordered and completed as 143 foot steel diesel vessels. The steel vessels were later re‐designated as ATA (auxiliary tugs). The design and specifications for the wood vessels were based on steel tugs that US yards were constructing for the British Admiralty. Construction in wood allowed smaller yards to participate in the rescue tug program freeing up already taxed resources in the steel shipyard program. Each vessel required over one million board feet of lumber and construction time was up to 14 months from keel‐laying to commissioning. They were powered with relatively simple triple‐expansion reciprocating steam engines developing 1600 ihp. While the wood rescue tugs had less towing endurance than their steel diesel cousins, they had superior firefighting capability making them more suitable for operating in combat zones, and in particular, landing beaches.

Original Name Later Names O/N
ATR–13 (USS) Salvage King (II) #179055
ATR–32 (USS) Pacmar #179480
ATR–64 (USS) Logmac; Mogul; Island Monarch; Seaspan Chinook; La Lumiere #179431
ATR–68 (USS) Towmac; Salvor (V) #179458

US Navy ATO class tugs

This is the sole example of a pre‐WWII US Navy tug.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Keosanqua (USS) (ATO–38) Edward J. Coyle; Commodore Straits (II) #179466

US Navy APc class coastal transports

APc–38 Coastal Transport

USS APc–38 (US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo #NH96395 courtesy NavSource)

This group of vessels is covered in more detail in an article by George Duddy in The Nauticapedia examining the full story of this class and the very confusing history of each of the vessels.

Original Name Later Names O/N
APc–32 (USS) Sekani; Wilmae Straits; Enterprise (XI) #178052
APc–26 (USS) George M. Lindsay; La Belle(II); Calm C.; Calm Sea #179053
APc–15 (USS) Gulf Trader; La Belle; Black Trader #179077
APc–39 (USS) Nahmint (II); #179748
APc–111 (USS) Coastal Trader (US); Sea Queen; La Fleur; T-W Sea Queen #192059
APc–25 (USS) Coastal Trader II (US); Cape Scott( III), Cape Cross (US) #192067
APc–50 (USS) Northern Girl (I); Loughborough Princess #192495
APc–96 (USS) Sea Prince; Le Prince (I); T-W Sea Prince; Sea Prince #192870
APc–3 (USS) P.B. Anderson; T-W Zelley #193770
APc–7? (USS) Sea Lark II; M.J. Scanlon #193771
APc–22 (USS) Stormbird (I) (US); La Dene; Anna D (US) #193790

US Navy WWI submarine chasers and other vessels

World War I sub chaser

In civilian life she was a rumrunner and tug. (Vancouver Archives CVA 447-2730 - MS Sub-Chaser 310, photographer Walter Edwin Frost)

The members of this class are ordered by their registration numbers (the O/N). All of the submarine chasers except the Amboyna and the Amaryllsis were possibly Canadian rumrunners during Prohibition.

Original Name Later Names O/N
SC–293 (USS) Etta Mac; Grant Lindsay; Debbie Kathleen K. #150649
SC–310 (USS) Trucilla #150650
SC-?(USS) Amarlysis (I); Amaryllis (RCAF); Amaryllis (I) #153219
2202 Arbutus (III); Nanaimo Clipper #153320
SC-?(USS) Ramona (II) (US); Ragna; Great Northern 1 #156612
SC–308 (USS) Hurry Home; Marauder; Marauder (HMCS); Marauder (I) #156633
SC-?(USS) Zip #156898
SC-?(USS) Ocelot (US); Hickey; Hickey (RCASC); Hickey #157448
Weononah(USS) Blue Water; Gulf Stream; Stranger (III); Wolf (HMCS); Gulf Stream #172512
SC–?(USS) Squamish (US); Terry (US); Amboyna; Suquamish I; Julian Rose MMXI XI XI #179642

US Navy WWII submarine chasers

World War II subchaser

(National Archives photo, source Dan Treadwell, from NavSource)

The members of this class are ordered by their registration numbers (the O/N). There is confusion between the designation PC and SC. After 1920 but before 1943 the PC designation was used for all subchasers but afterwards all 110 foot WWII vessels were re‐designated to SC when a new class of PC steel 173 foot vessel was introduced. After the war (until 1947) 70 subchasers were assigned to the United States Coast Guard for air rescue duties in conjunction with the demobilization of US aircraft from the various off‐shore bases and theatres of war. These received new Air names and designations. For example SC‐772 became Air Mallard (WAVR R437).

“Splinter Fleet – The Wooden Subchasers of World War II” by the late Theodore (Ted) Treadwell highlights these vessels at Hulls Still Afloat.

Original Name Later Names O/N
SC–1311 (USS) Jervis Express; Tournament; T–W Islander; Mainland Express; Pacific Express #178056
SC–1279? (USS) La Pine; Senarietta II; Tai–Lai; Argonaut III #178799
SC–724 (USS) Norqueen #178814
SC–730? (USS) Kaigani II; Seymour Narrows; Triggerfish (I) #179598
SC–1341 Quatsino (III) #179614
PC–1039 (USS) SC–1039 (USS); Norking #179630
SC–1363(USS) Radiant (US); Sechelt Chief (II); Nanaimo Chief; Donalee; Radiant #190339
SC–1272(USS) Norman Nelson; Western Dispatcher (II) #190573
SC–1372 (USS) Cairdeas #192037
SC–1065 (USS) Nootka Chief (I); Derek Todd #192041
SC–715 (USS) Air Killdeer (WAVR) (USCGS); Cape Pine #193787
SC–772 (USS) Air Mallard (WAVR) (USCGS); Joan Lindsay; Maplewood; Lady Goodiver #194224
SC–640? (USS) Cape Spruce #194651
SC–539 (USS) Air Crow (WAVR) (USCGS); Linda (IV) #194653
SC–990?(USS) La Gloria (Mexico); Randy; G.N. Carrier #194690
PC–504 (USS) SC–504 (USS); Wesco No. 50; Pacific Laurel #194941

US Navy Accentor AMc class minesweepers

HMC <em>ML120</em>

USS Progress AMc-98 (Photo source unknown)

Many vessels of this class were completed as APc coastal transports when it became apparent that too many of this class of minesweeper had been ordered. The vessels of this class are ordered by their registration numbers (the O/N).

Original Name Later Names O/N
Radiant (USS) AMc99 Norcrest; Ernest Todd #178240
Progress? (USS) AMc98 H&L #179073
Prestige (USS) AMc97 Prestige; Johnston Straits II; Broughton Straits (II) #197393

US Navy YMS class minesweepers and PCS patrol class sweepers

USS <em>Redhead</em> underway

YMS-443 later USS Redhead (US Navy Photo NH 85779, from NavSource)

This was the largest class of vessels constructed during WWII. A total of 561 of these scrappy 136 foot wooden‐hulled vessels were constructed including 150 transferred to the British under the lend‐lease program.These were built in three distinctive batches: YMS–1 to YMS–134 were constructed with two funnels, YMS–135 to YMS–445 and YMS–480 and YMS–481 had one funnel while the rest had none. Another US Navy class, the PCS patrol class sweeper, was also constructed using the YMS hull. Not all were reclassified as YMS vessels as evidenced by PCS–1452.

There are a number of other vessels that were brought to BC but it is unknown if they were ever registered. A YMS of unknown number and YMS–331 were used for a time as part of a floating breakwater by Mahood Lumber Company at Wolfson Creek on the Sechelt coast. YMS–331 was eventually demolished and burnt but the unknown vessel was moved to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island where she remains as a wreck on the beach. YMS–407 was purchased to become Uchuck IV for Barkley Sound Navigation but her conversion was not completed and no record was found of her registration.

YMS–159, which may have been registered, had a brief career as chip barge VT. No 100 for Vancouver Tug but ended up becoming a dive‐on wreck at Bedwell Bay. She will be added to the list when a record of her registration is found.

The members of this class are ordered by their registration numbers (O/N).

Original Name Later Names O/N
YMS–125? (USS) Tahsis Chief; West Whale 4; Lavallee II #178825
YMS–297 (USS) Western Express (I) #179082
YMS–147 (USS) Phillips I (US); Susie C (US); Marijean; Maquinna #179442
YMS–123 (USS) Uchuck III #179475
YMS–140 (USS) Salvor (III); Salvage Queen (II); Patsy Lee (US); Clear Water (US) #179617
YMS–97 (USS) Marabell #179625
YMS–328 (USS) La Beverie; Wild Goose II; Wild Goose (US) #190590
YMS–122 (USS) Tahsis Chief No. 2; W.F. Gibson; Majorie Todd #190829
YMS–432 (USS) Tahsis King; Tahsis Straits; Pacific Venture (II) #192079
YMS–467 (USS) Cosbur No. 2; Cosbur (I); Clover Leaf; Hecate; Roland #192481
PCS–1452 (USS) PCS 1452; PCS 1452 (non-powered barge); N.S.P. No.7 #192491
YMS–111 (USS) Misinderan (US); Western Challenger #192851
YMS–118 (USS) V.O. (US); Pacific Prince #195231
YMS–420 (USS) Cordova (HMCS); Cordova; Harbour Queen No.1; Nakaya #330420

US Navy miscellaneous vessels

The vessels included comprise a variety of types including tugs, landing craft, self‐propelled lighters and oilers.

Four former US military vessels used in the western arctic for re‐supply of Distant Early Warning ‐ DEW Line ‐ stations have been excluded. Preliminary research indicates these vessels were not Canadian registered but were simply loaned to the Northern Transportation Company Ltd. for this purpose. The vessels included LSTs 692 and 1072, dry dock ship ARD–31 and fuel supply ship AOG Pinnebog.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Abele (USS) (YN–77) Abele; Superior Straits #173188
YO–119 (USS) Western Shell; Pacific Ree #178797
YTC–501 (USS) Redonda (II) #194214
LSM–323 (USS) Snowbird II (RCAF); Angus R.; General Levis #179631
LCI(L)–579 (USS) LCI(L)–579 (USS); Yellowknife Expeditor; Y–Tee Expeditor; NT Expeditor #192050
LST–3535 (HMS) LST–3535 (HMS); Transfer No.4 (II); Seaspan 923; Schonlogger II #194366
LST–1003 (USS) LST–1003 (USS); Coronis (USS) (ARL–10); Trailer Princess #327072
YF–874 (USS) Tyee Princess #391407
YTL–711 (USS) L.C.E. (US); Titan (US); Trojan I (II) #820094
Watseka (USS) Watseka (USS); Sea Horse (II); NT Covenant; Raggedy Ann; Sea Horse #836679

US Coast Guard 83 foot patrol vessels

USCG-1 83 foot patrol vessel</em>

USCG-1 (Photo from www.uscg.mil)

Three examples of the US Coast Guard's mini version of a subchaser became resident in western Canada. In a post‐war capacity these vessels became popular as yachts and charter vessels. A large number of the 83 footers were built, all by Wheeler Shipbuilding Corp. of Brooklyn, New York. For further details see USCG 83 foot cutter histories.

Original Name Later Names O/N
CG–83500 (USCGS) Trenora (US); Lord Nelson III #370225
CG–83416 (USCGS) Elfin #370268
CG–83420 (USCGS) Addisonia (US); Calafia (US); Island Holiday (US); Rosario Princess (US); Nautilus; Emerald Tide #818031

Other US Coast Guard and US government vessels

These vessels originally served in the United States Revenue Service (USRS) as lighthouse tenders or revenue cutters or as US Coast Guard vessels before becoming well‐known local tugs.

Original Name Later Names O/N
No.16 (USRS) Snohomish (USRS); Snohomish; Matarsin (Argentine Navy); Ona Sol (Argentina) #158954
Leslie (USRS) Del Draco (US); Basalt No.1 (US); Jorgie; Ocean Comet (I); Mount Comet #178829
Nemaha (USCGS) Nemaha (US); Sea Monarch (II); Le Roi (II) #193513

US Army LT Design 293 wood tugs (Miki class tugs)

Miki tug <em>Loyd B Gore</em>

The former Miki tug Lloyd B Gore under restoration at Steveston BC in 2014. (Photo from the George Duddy collection)

US Army ocean tugs were classified as LT (Large Tug) or ST (Small Tug). Most were unnamed but were given a unique serial number prefixed by LT or ST. A total of 718 tugs were constructed to several designs both in wood and in steel. Some existing civilian tugs drafted into military service were also given serial numbers. The largest ST tug built appears to be 86 feet.

Design 293 class of tugs was modelled after the tug Miki Miki built in 1929 for Young Bros. Towing of Honolulu Hawaii. They were designed by L.H. Coolidge and several were built by Ballard Marine. Officially they were known as Miki class tugs (ocean-going). There were 61 built for the US Army Transportation Service (USATS). They were 128’ x 28’ x 16’ and were powered by either a 1200hp Enterprise engine or a 1200hp Superior engine in the single screw (Miki) version. In the twin screw (Miki Miki) version they carried a 600hp or 900hhp Fairbanks–Morse engine. All the twin screw versions were built on the west coast using fir and cedar. The name Miki Miki means “on time”.

Original Name Later Names O/N
LT–144 (USATS) Florence Filberg #176286
LT–158 (USATS) Mary Mackin #176287
LT–188 (USATS) Island Navigator; Isla; Pablo #177383
LT–496 (USATS) J.S. Foley; Haida Warrior (III); Active (V); 109 #178830
LT–465 (USATS) Ernest F. Ladd; Lloyd B. Gore; Ernest F. Ladd; Ku'ulakai #193524
LT–462 (USATS) James M. Curley; Johnstone Straits; Centennial Lion #198101

US Army LT miscellaneous design steel tugs

The three LT steel tugs that operated in British Columbian waters were all of different designs: LT–62 was design 228 at 123 feet in length, LT–533 was design 377‐A at 143 feet while LT–829 was design 327‐D at 149 feet.

Design 377‐A army tugs were built to the same design and built in the same yards as US Navy ATR steel rescue tugs. These rescue tugs were later reclassified as ATA auxiliary tugs. In 1948 a group of these ATA tugs were given the designation as Sotoyomo class but this designation never applied to LT–533 as she was delivered as an army tug before this time. Reports are varied: LT–533 may have been a navy tug or she may have been ordered as a navy tug but delivered as an army one. This confusion is not surprising given the exigencies of war‐time production.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Major Richard M. Strong (USATS) LT–62 (USATS); Island Sovereign; Seaspan Sovereign #192879
LT–533 (USATS) Foundation Lillian; Roy H. Peters; Escort; N.R. Lang; Haida Chieftain; Audry Gail #178987
LT–829 (USATS) Gulf Joan; Seaspan Commander (II); Sea Commander #325683

US Army ST design 332 wood tugs

Two tugs of this design operated in local coastal waters.

Original Name Later Names O/N
ST– 414? (USATS) Island Ranger; Seaspan Ranger; Island Ranger #177371
ST– 473 (USATS) Thor (I) (US); R. Bell–Irving; Stormking #194214

US Army ST design 257–A steel tugs

ST design 257–A steel tugs</em>

Former US Army ST design 257-A tugs being loaded onto sunken barge Island Yarder in dry dock at Ballard, Washington State. (Photo courtesy MMBC)

Local involvement with this class of vessel occurred in two independent ways. The first involved transportation of six them from Puget Sound, USA to Buenos Aires, Argentina while the second was purchase of three for use in the local towing industry.

In what has been described as an “adroit” and likely “very profitable transaction” by Island Tug and Barge Company of Victoria, BC, the company sold its large tug Snohomish and large barge the original Island Trader to Argentinian interests at a time when the local market was saturated with surplus vessels. The delivery in 1947-1948, marking one of the longest tows on record was accomplished, under company master Captain Fred MacFarlane. In addition to fuel cargo the barge carried six surplus US Army ST tugs as deck cargo. Five of the six have been identified: ST-85, ST-146, ST-147, ST-164 and ST-167.

Three tugs of this design operated in local coastal waters.The reader who opens the links for these vessels will note that two of these vessels came to tragic ends with at least in one case loss of life. This echoed in the fate of a US sister tug W.H. Mcfadden. It was thought that there may have been a stability problem with this class of vessel in open waters.

Original Name Later Names O/N
ST– 170 (USATS) E–170; George McGregor #177387
ST– 169 (USATS) Isabella Stewart; Fraser Crown; Pacific Buoy #177418
ST– 13 (USATS) F.M. Yorke #178238

US Army ST class river tugs (RT) steel tugs

US Army ST-river tugs (RT)

Canol Project river tugs and barges hauled out for winter freeze‐up. Location thought to be Camp Canol opposite Norman Wells NT. (Courtesy NT Archives)

These tugs were supplied by the US Army for transportation on the Mackenzie River for the Canol Pipeline Project and later sold to Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL), originally a crown corporation.

Original Name Later Names O/N
RT–903 (USATS) (River Tug) Clearwater; Horn River #176217
RT–902 (USATS) (river tug) Slave #176218
RT–901 (USATS) (River Tug) Peace #192889

US Army ST unidentified tugs

It is suspected the tugs in this group are ST tugs. Columbia King had a sister ship Columbia Queen (ST–349) in the US Army. The ST–1923 may have military roots but her ST number appears to be invalid.

Original Name Later Names O/N
Columbia King (US) ST–unknown (USATS); Columbia King (US); Gillking #178776
ST–1923 (USATS) Grand Bank; Nanaimo Clipper; Savage Warrior #183366

US Army TP class wooden tugs

Former Army tug TP–231 lives on as Breeze

Former US Army tug TP–231 lives on as the Breeze after extensive service on the west coast. (Photo from the Rob Stewart collection, used with permission)

The TP class of harbour tugs were all purpose‐built support vessels used in towing and tendering and general utility work for the US Army. There were 43 TPs constructed and all had low power as a wartime economy measure. They were a west coast phenomenon as all were built in Washington State or California. Almost all were sold into commercial use after the war ended with nine coming to western Canada. They were 96 feet nominal length with 450hp Fairbanks–Morse six cylinder engines. All were built with 12" x 14" deck beams on 18" centers and 12" x 14" ribs. All the hull planks were through‐bolted and the hull treated with coal oil and sheathed in ironwood. They all had extra cabins and a large hold in the stern with a 40‐ton capacity allowing them dual capability for transporting personnel as well as serving as tugs – hence the designation TP (designating Tug Personnel).

Original Name Later Names O/N
TP–133 (USATS) Island Champion (I) #177373
TP–126 (USATS) Island Challenger (I); Seaspan Challenger; Seaspan Cavalier (I); Challenger (I) #177380
TP–127? (USATS)) Senator (II); Rosario Straits (I); Fury Straits; Seaforth Fury; Senator (II); Mt. Ream; Wild Horses #178207
TP–231 (USATS) Sea Giant; La Brise; Seaspan Breeze; Breeze #178231
TP–98 (USATS) Jim (US); Sirmac; Jim (US) #192294
TP–100 (USATS) Adak (II); Pacific Chief; Adak II (US) #193517
TP–225 (USATS) Arctic Queen (US); Charlotte Straits #193766
TP–123 (USATS) Santrinia (US); Pacific Master; Haro Straits (I); Haro (II); Driftwood; Songhee #193772
TP–107 (USATS) Daring (I) (US); Anna Gore; Seaspan Daring #194698

Miscellaneous US Army transport vessels

The first four vessels in this group are all former US Army freight supply (FS) vessels.The last one is a coastal tanker which later was operated by the US Navy as YOL-2 (USS).

Original Name Later Names O/N
FS–47 Mount Edgecumbe (USATS) Cape James (II) #189245
FS–245 (USATS) Libby (US); Veta C.; Chelan #193774
FS–242 (USATS) Pomare (Mexico); Princess of Alberni; Nootka Prince; Techno Crown; Ocean Crown #195786
Anderson JMP–64 (USATS) Pacific Yellowfin #822563
YO–30 (USATS) YOL-2 (USS); Argo (US); Argus (I); Straits No.12; Pacific Barge 12; Rivtow 7; Browns 301 #192513

Miscellaneous US vessels over 50 feet

Limited detail is available about the origins of these vessels but they also served the local economy.

Original Name Later Names O/N
US Army Rescue Boat P–662? Speedmac; Griffin III; Shogun II #192514
Unknown name/source (possibly USN) Gertrude H. #192880
Unknown name/source Canfors No.7 (or Canfors No. 8); Big Mother; Mountain Ranger #193472
Q–679? (US Army Crash Boat) Flying Saucer (US); B.C. Scaler; Tarquin II; New Beldis; Glowing Dawn #193530

Observations and Conclusions

Uchuck III

A fine example of a YMS minesweeper, extensively modified and maintained, the Uchuck III continues to contribute to the economy as she nears her 75th year in 2016. (Photo from the John Arnold collection, used with permission)

It is hoped that the foregoing compilations will be of use in tracing the roots of foreign vessels that became part of the British Columbia fleet after WWI and WWII. Huge numbers of vessels were necessary to get combat forces to the battlefields and this required an enormous shipbuilding effort. Afterwards, they provided a terrific boost to the provincial economy by providing replacement vessels to industries that had been starved of new construction during the war years and were available for purchase at bargain basement prices. An impressive effort in shipbuilding saw hundreds of North American shipyards produce thousands of ships in only a few years. This occurred in tiny boat‐building yards in remote communities as well as in huge factory yards. Even inland yards remote from the sea were involved. For example, during WWII the Missouri Valley Bridge Company – an in‐land yard built in a cornfield near Leavenworth Kansas – produced over 100 ships including nearly 70 LCTs.

Although many steel vessels were available in the war surplus fleets, the locals predominately chose diesel‐powered wooden vessels. Former US Navy APc class coastal transports, US Navy subchasers, US Army Miki LT and TP class tugs were the favoured choice for reviving and upgrading the tug fleet and completing the transition from steam to diesel power. The APc vessels were also popular for coastal transportation. Many found early employment in the fishing industry as fish packers. Some of the vessels became power yachts for local nabobs and others were used by charter operators. It is also worth mentioning that some locals made very good use of former WWI subchasers as rumrunners to enhance their fortunes during prohibition days.


The author thanks Suzanne Sulzberger and her team for providing access to vessel registration documents held at the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) Burnaby facility and the members of the British Columbia Nautical History Facebook Group for their assistance in sorting out the origins of several vessels in this list and background on the Miki Miki tugs as well as providing use of photographs. Thanks too to marine writers S.C. Heal and Frank Clapp for use of material and Lea Edgar of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for her assistance. The Nauticapedia vessel database was frequently referred to for this project.

For tracking the origins of US vessels the extensive shipbuilding records collected by Tim Colton in his Shipbuilding History website was of prime importance. The Shipscribe.com website, Register of Ships of the US Navy Auxiliary Vessels was of much help as was the NavSource website. A study on US Army ST tugs entitled “U.S. Army ST/RT Small Harbor Tugs, Built or Used During World War II and the Korean War 1890 ‐ 1946 (sic) Updated 9 26 2014” was also consulted. This resulted in the identification of three re‐designated ST river class vessels that were used on the Mackenzie River system. For tracking the origins of US Navy tugs reference was also made to the book by CDR David D. Bruhn, USN (Retired) “We Are Sinking, Send Help!”. I also am grateful to my friend and former colleague at BC Hydro Al Imrie for reaching back to his student employment days and providing me the names of US Navy vessels employed by NTCL for re-supply of Dew Line radar stations.

The sources for the photographs are acknowledged in the body of the article. The author thanks those who provided permission for use of their images.

The author wishes to acknowledge the initial effort to compile data by the late John Henderson and the updates by John M. MacFarlane in 2015 and thank team members Lynn and Dan Salmon for their assistance with editing and website coding for the article.

To quote from this article please cite:

The late John Henderson with updates by John M. MacFarlane (2015) and George Duddy (2016) Western Canada’s Maritime War Dividend–Military Vessels Converted for Civilian Use Nauticapedia.ca 2016. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Converted_Military_Vessels.php

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